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Pride Month Organizers Confident in Security Despite Far-Right Threats

Pride Month Organizers Confident in Security Despite Far-Right Threats

People with Pride flags

Representatives for major Pride organizations across the country encourage people to come out and celebrate in a safe and affirming environment.

Cwnewser

As Pride Month ramps up nationwide, some members of the LGBTQ+ community fear violence by right-wing actors who seek to disrupt events this year as gay and trans rights have become a flashpoint again in American society. But, as Pride committees prepare for their big day(s), organizers tell The Advocate they are well prepared for whatever may come.

In partnership with local, state, and federal law enforcement organizations, New York City and Washington, D.C., Pride organizers are briefed regularly on threats and adjust their security postures accordingly, so they tend to be familiar with the groups that may try to cause trouble at their events.

This weekend, Capital Pride kicks off in D.C. this year and organizers hope community members and their allies will come out to celebrate loudly and proudly.

“We’re fortunate to be able to work with both federal and local law enforcement but other security and safety and health agencies to navigate the different terrain that this city generates and draws in regards to attention,” says Capital Pride executive director Ryan Bos. “So we’ve leaned on them to engage in those conversations.”

Bos tells The Advocate that in the lead-up to Pride Month, agencies have engaged in conversations with worldwide Pride organizers to discuss security risks and solutions.

He says D.C. organizers are used to throwing successful events in the nation’s capital, with occasional detractors, and they learn from their experiences.

For instance, during D.C.’s 2019 Pride Parade, chaos erupted as reports of gunfire sparked a stampede as people took cover. Some revelers were tramped underfoot by crowds of revelers, causing several to be hospitalized from what they believed was an active shooter. In a video taken at the scene, dozens, if not hundreds, of people, are seen racing through the streets.

Metropolitan Police officials confirmed there was no active shooter, and no one was shot. The panic was sparked by an altercation on Dupont Circle in which a person displayed a weapon. The weapon-bearer was apprehended.

Bos says since then, lessons have been learned about using metal racks to contain crowds and the cascading effects of panic when those gates begin to crash down, sounding like gunfire to the already frightened.

He says that in a fraught political climate, it’s his hope and the hope of Capital Pride as an organization to bring civility and excitement to the area to celebrate the things that make the LGBTQ+ community unique.

“Our hope is, through Pride season, that with all this hate that is permeating our culture, or being more prevalent and outwardly facing, that we can take this time to hopefully rebuild some spirits, and show folks that there’s folks that we have each other’s back, that we have support in the community and can provide these spaces for us to have pride in who we are and to know that we are a value,” Bos adds.

The Department of Homeland Security referred The Advocate to a recently issued National Terrorism Advisory Bulletin noting that LGBTQ+ communities should be on alert.

“Lone offenders and small groups motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and personal grievances continue to pose a persistent threat to the United States,” the bulletin reads. “U.S. critical infrastructure, faith-based institutions, individuals or events associated with the LGBTQIA+-community, schools, racial and ethnic minorities, and government facilities and personnel are likely targets of potential violence.”

In response to a request for comment to understand the posture of the Federal Bureau of Investigation concerning groups that would attack Pride events, a spokesperson for the agency sent the following statement:

“The FBI does not focus on groups. We focus on individuals who commit or intend to commit violence and criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security. The FBI is in regular communication with our federal, state, local, and tribal partners on any potential threats to their communities. We encourage members of the public to maintain awareness of their surroundings and to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.”

New York City Pride, the largest in the country, happens in a few weeks, but organizers have been busy preparing for months.

“It’s not terribly new for us to be in a challenging political climate [and] pride was born out of that,” NYC Pride media director Dan Dimant says.

He explains that, on balance, the organization isn’t making any changes to security plans; instead, they tweak elements of plans as they continually evaluate the threat situation.

“Pride was born out of political activism, so the way I see it this year, yes, it’s a more challenging year,” he explains. “But we’ve always had plans in place for whatever the environment may be, whether it’s a more optimistic environment versus one where there are more threats [and] more reason to be cautious. Our safety plans and security plans have always been incredibly robust. It’s been that way for many years. So we’re not really making any material changes because we’ve kind of been prepared for this moment.”

He notes that NYC Pride’s safety and security efforts are multifaceted, with the NYPD taking part in a complex system of layers for the event.

Dimant says that although the organization has barred police organizations from marching in the Pride parade in uniform since 2021 because of violence perpetrated by police officers, the decision has had no impact on the professional relationship between NYC Pride and the NYPD.

“We have private security that we’ve hired. They play a role,” Dimant says. “We also are working with numerous government agencies, and those agencies exist at every level of government across city, state, and federal. It’s NYPD in some ways, but it’s also DOT, sanitation, fire, and EMS.”

Dimant says that between 1.5 and two million spectators are expected to participate in New York City’s pride events this year, including the march through Manhattan on June 25.

For anybody considering going to Pride in New York City, D.C., or elsewhere, organizers from across the country say the encourage LGBTQ+ community members and allies to come out and celebrate.

“Please, please, please come to Pride because we do need to show up louder,” Dimant says. “The threats, the rhetoric, the misinformation, they’re doing that so that you’ll stay home. And so we can’t let them win. We have to show up.”

Dimant says that people should use the mantra “if you see something, say something” and report suspicious activities to anybody with a NYC Pride shirt or badge or to call 311 or 911 in case of emergency.

He adds, “We are confident that this will be a safe event. There is really no safer place to be. We have the tools and the resources that it takes to really leave no stone unturned when it comes to making sure that this is an incident-free event.”

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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).